Jockey Mike Smith pulled off a graded stakes winning trifecta this weekend capturing a Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3 event over a four day span this week at two different racetracks on his way to winning the Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week for November 23rd – November 29th. The award is voted on by a panel of experts for riding accomplishments by members of the Jockeys’ Guild, the organization which represents more than 950 riders in North America.
Smith cruised to victory in the Grade 2 Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes on Thanksgiving Day aboard The Pizza Man at Del Mar. He rated the Arlington Million winner through the majority of the race and finished with a furious final quarter of a mile to win going away by two lengths in the mile and a half feature.
The Hall of Fame rider hit the road and traveled to Churchill Downs the following afternoon to pilot Effinex to a Grade 1 win in the Clark handicap. Effinex closed with a four-wide bid after breaking from post eight. He and Smith took over from Race Day, who briefly assumed the advantage turning for home after prompting the pace, and turned back the game inside run of longshot Looks to Spare.
“He’s done some quirky things,” Smith said of Effinex. “He’s bolted before, he’ll switch leads in the middle of the turn with you to the right, which is very odd for a horse to do that. He’ll kind of throw himself off and I just took a long hold and keep my hands down and just let him get comfortable with himself. Every move he does, I just go with and it seems to work out well. Instead of grabbing him and trying to make him stay in his left down the turn and stay in his right down the lane, I just go with him and it works. So far, so good.”
Smith was back at his home base in Southern California for a holiday weekend of racing following the Friday win at Churchill Downs. He topped off a great week by winning the Grade 3 Cecil B DeMille Stakes on Sunday afternoon when he guided Dressed In Hermes to the winners circle. The gelding strongly rebounded from his fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (Gr. 1) on Oct. 30 at Keeneland, coming from off the pace to take the mile race for two-year-olds from front-running Collected.
“Janet (trainer Janet Armstrong) just said ride him with confidence,” Smith said after the race. “She said he might do best to lay fourth or fifth and then he should come running. She was right. I just had to guide him around there. He wants to run on, this horse. I had a hard time pulling him up after the race. Had a hard time pulling him up going into the winner’s circle. He’ll run on—mile and an eighth for sure. He’s got a lot of good energy.”
For the week Smith had three winners from his nine mounts with one second placing and two third place finishes and earnings of $552,040.
JockeyTalk360.com spotlights the riders across North America and around the world who may be the bravest, toughest and most accomplished of all athletes. The Jockeys’ Guild Jockey of the Week is selected by a vote of representatives of America’s Best Racing, the Daily Racing Form, Equibase, the Jockeys’ Guild, the Paulick Report, the Thoroughbred Daily News, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, National Turf Writers and Broadcasters, Thoroughbred Racing Associations, and Turf Publicists of America.